Thomas J. Oakley

Thomas Jackson Oakley (November 10, 1783 – May 11, 1857) was a New York attorney, politician, and judge. He served as a United States Representative and as New York State Attorney General.

Thomas J. Oakley
Thomas J. Oakley.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 5th district
In office
Preceded byBartow White
Succeeded byThomas Taber II
New York State Attorney General
In office
GovernorDeWitt Clinton
Preceded byMartin Van Buren
Succeeded bySamuel A. Talcott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 4th district
In office
Preceded byJames Emott
Succeeded byAbraham H. Schenck
Personal details
Thomas Jackson Oakley

(1783-11-10)November 10, 1783
Beekman, New York
DiedMay 11, 1857(1857-05-11) (aged 73)
Resting placeTrinity Churchyard
Lydia Williams
(m. 1808, her death)

Matilda Cruger
(his death 1857)
RelationsT.J. Oakley Rhinelander (grandson)
ParentsJerusha Petera Oakley
Jesse Oakley
Alma materYale College

Early lifeEdit

Oakley was born in Beekman, New York on November 10, 1783.[1] He was the son of Jerusha (Petera) Oakley and Jesse Oakley, a farmer and veteran of the American Revolution.[2]

He graduated from Yale College in 1801, studied law with attorney Philo Ruggles in Poughkeepsie, and was admitted to the bar in 1804.[2]


Oakley practiced first in Poughkeepsie, and later in New York City.[2] Among his notable cases, Oakley and Thomas Addis Emmet represented Aaron Ogden in the landmark case Gibbons v. Ogden, which the United States Supreme Court ultimately resolved in favor of Gibbons, who was represented by Daniel Webster and William Wirt.[3]

Oakley was Surrogate of Dutchess County from 1810 to 1811.[4] He was elected as a Federalist to the Thirteenth United States Congress (March 4, 1813 – March 3, 1815).[5] During this term, Oakley was an anti-war Federalist and opposed U.S. participation in the War of 1812.

Oakley was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1816, and again from 1818 to 1820.[5] From 1819 to 1821, he was New York State Attorney General.[5]

In 1826, he was again elected to Congress, serving from March 4, 1827, until May 9, 1828, when he resigned to accept a judgeship.[5] He was a judge of the superior court of New York City from 1828 to 1847.[5] In 1847, he was appointed chief judge, and he served until his death in office.[5]

In 1853, Oakley received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Union College.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1808, Oakley married Lydia Williams, the daughter of Abigail (née Sayre) Williams and Robert Williams, a prominent business and political figure in Poughkeepsie.[6] They were the parents of a son:[7]

  • Robert Williams Oakley, a Union College graduate, attorney, and militia officer who died unmarried in 1832.[6]

After the death of his first wife Oakley married Matilda Cruger (1809–1891);[8] the daughter of Henry Cruger, who had the unique distinction of serving as both a member of Parliament (1774–1780; 1784–1790) and as a New York State Senator (1792–1796).[5] Thomas and Matilda were the parents of five children, three daughters and two sons.[5]

Oakley died May 11, 1857,[5] and was buried at Trinity Churchyard in New York City.[9]


Through his daughter Matilda Cruger (née Oakley) Rhinelander (1827–1914), who married William Rhinelander, he was the grandfather of Thomas Jackson Oakley Rhinelander (1858–1946) and Philip Jacob Rhinelander (1865–1940), both of whom were prominent in New York society during the Gilded Age.[8]


  1. ^ Flint, Martha Bockée (1897). The Bockée Family (Boucquet) 1641-1897. A.V. Haight. p. 72. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, p. 450.
  3. ^ The Supreme Court in United States History, p. 59.
  4. ^ Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, pp. 450-451.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, p. 451.
  6. ^ a b Sayre Family, p. 103.
  7. ^ Banta, Theodore Melvin (1901). Sayre Family: Lineage of Thomas Sayre, a Founder of Southampton. De Vinne Press. p. 103. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b Genealogies of the State of New York: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of a Commonwealth and the Founding of a Nation. Lewis Historical Publishing Company. 1915. p. 318. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  9. ^ Where They're Buried, p. 247.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Emott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Abraham H. Schenck
Political offices
Preceded by
Martin Van Buren
New York State Attorney General
Succeeded by
Samuel A. Talcott
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bartow White
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 5th congressional district

Succeeded by
Thomas Taber II